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Is Depression Affecting Your Diabetes Care?

separator Depression is more common among people who have diabetes than it is in the general population. It’s no secret why this is so. When you find out you have diabetes, you experience a sense of loss. Your life can no longer be the way it was, eating without thinking about it so much, going about your day without having to worry about testing your blood sugar, taking medications, maybe even taking insulin. It’s normal to feel a sense of grief for an easier way of life you know you can no longer have.

That’s why depression is most common at the time of diagnosis and shortly afterwards. It’s overwhelming and stressful to think of all the changes you have to make now. Many people get past this period of depression by learning how to shift their focus. They learn to think about all the things in their lives that are worth living for, and usually they think of taking care of themselves as a way to keep on enjoying life.

But sometimes, it’s not possible to get through the depression on your own. Your feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and maybe even anger, weigh you down so much that you don’t want to make the effort to care for yourself as well as you should. Maybe your spouse or partner is noticing that you’re not yourself and is trying to get you to eat well, get exercise and get out of your “funk.” All of these things are signs that it might be time to talk to your doctor

It is normal to get frustrated and feel blue from time to time. However, be aware of these signs that may indicate that your depression has gone too far for you to handle it on your own:

  • A feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Lack of motivation to take care of your diabetes
  • Changes in sleep habits: sleeping more than usual, or having difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating or feeling unable to cope
  • Feeling nervous, irritable or constantly worried
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy

Remember, it’s important not to get “stuck” when it comes to meeting your treatment goals. Not taking care of yourself can lead to complications, so if depression is getting in your way, it’s time to do something about it.

If you think you or a loved one may be depressed, talk to your healthcare provider about it. The sooner depression is treated, the sooner you will start feeling better, and be more able to manage your diabetes. Generally, with proper monitoring, people with diabetes can safely take antidepressant medications, if necessary, which have helped thousands of people. In addition, consider the following to keep your physical and emotional health at their best:

  • Work with a healthcare team that you like and trust. A good healthcare relationship is one in which you feel comfortable asking questions, and your needs and concerns are addressed.
  • Join a support group for people with diabetes. It’s helpful to share challenges and frustrations with others.
  • Learn as much as you can about diabetes and its treatment.

To get some perspective, think of the people in your life, your interests and hobbies, all the things you enjoy. They’re all still there. Remember the things that you love, and maybe the diabetes can take its place in your life as something you need to manage, but not something that takes over your life.

American Diabetes Association; Diabetes Care; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.
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